Tag: umbc

The College Ranking Season Has Begun!

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Every list has its own spin, from US News’ complicated overall rankings to sillier “best cafeteria” lists. Kiplinger’s particular specialty is assessing various public colleges and universities in terms of value — that is, good schools for not-too-much money. And with five colleges ranking in the 100-long list, Maryland’s not a shabby state to pay your taxes in, if you’re hoping for quality tuition at in-state prices.

Kiplinger’s declared the University of Maryland, College Park the eighth-best value in the nation.  Other schools making the cut included Towson University (#76), Salisbury University (#71), St. Mary’s College of Maryland (#42) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (#84).  (All those rankings are for in-state students; for everyone else, the rankings were 10, 81, 53, 35, and 63, respectively.)

And though Maryland has a lot to be proud of in this list, we’re still facing heavy competition from our neighbors to the south.  Virginia had two schools in the top five (UVA and William and Mary), and seven schools in the top 100. The top-value college in the U.S.? The University of North Carolina. Hard to argue with that.

Which Baltimore School Tops the US News Rankings?

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The US News and World Report released its annual college rankings yesterday to a flurry of attention. (Quick, for the next 64 hours and counting, you can get full access to the rankings without paying!) If this sort of thing matters to you, you might be excited to hear that Harvard and Princeton tied for the number one spot, or that if the top four liberal arts colleges were an acronym, it would be WASP (Williams-Amherst-Swarthmore-Pomona).

The real news around Baltimore, though, is that the magazine ranked our very own University of Maryland-Baltimore County as the number one “up-and-coming” school in the entire country — for the third year in a row, no less. What does that mean, exactly? Well, the publication asked its ranking experts to single out schools “that are making the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, and student life.” UMBC touts its “engaged student” teaching model, used in intro psychology/engineering/science classes as one example of this kind of innovation — “The changes have not only produced higher pass rates, but also have encouraged more students to prepare for careers in these fields,” the school says.

There is, of course, plenty of criticism of the rankings every year:  their methodology is no good; “best” for who, exactly?; etc. (“I would say in total the rankings are based on how rich you are, how selective you are, and how famous you are,” an expert told the LA Times). But still, it’s nice to see the Retrievers getting the attention they well deserve.

Baldamor or Bawlmor: Say What?

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UMBC recently posted a short series of podcasts exploring Baltimorese — or, in other words, a free linguistics lesson that explores the relationship between language, identity, and culture by parsing the oddness that is the Baltimore accent.

I found the mini-class through a quick search on iTunes U, a compendium of the increasing bulk of educational content available online, mostly for free. You can find classes on the Civil War, death, cocktail mixology, and, well, the Baltimore accent. These free online classes are becoming hugely popular worldwide, so much so that a fall 2011 class on artificial intelligence hosted by Stanford has more than 62,000 online students enrolled. That’s crazy, especially when you consider that Stanford’s non-virtual student body is only about 15,000.

While most free online classes consist of not much more than audiotaped or filmed lectures, Stanford (and others) are starting to take things to the next level. The AI class, for example, will feature interactive quizzes and virtual office hours; students will be able to see their class rank, and will receive a “statement of accomplishment” upon completing the course. The UMBC podcast was constructed specifically with an online audience in mind — they make complex ideas accessible to an online audience.

Check out podcasts by the UMBC grad students here. You just might learn something!
“‘Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!’ Exploring Hon as a Linguistic and Identity Marker in Baltimore,” which examines the changing nature of the word “hon” in Baltimore culture.

“‘Baldamor, Curry, and Dug’: Language Variation, Culture, and Identity among African American Baltimoreans,” which unpacks some of the unique pronunciations heard in African American communities.

“Multilingualism and Ethnicity in Baltimore, Maryland,” which takes listeners into Baltimore’s multilingual communities to learn about language contact and language choice.

Summer Reading: Local Schools’ Picks

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It’s just about that time of year when the peaches are juiciest, and when students remember how they’ve completely neglected their summer reading. Once the exclusive provenance of high school students, colleges have increasingly been asking incoming freshmen to have read the same book before they show up for orientation. Below, the tomes being toted around by future freshmen at Baltimore area universities and colleges:

Johns Hopkins –  Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
Kidder’s great at telling stories of global strife and public health emergencies — and then somehow winding up with a semi-optimistic conclusion. As the school tells its incoming students, “You are about to embark on a wonderful journey not only at Johns Hopkins University but in the city of Baltimore. It is our hope you will make every effort to become an active member of both of these communities.” A sign of the university’s attempts to pop the infamous “Hopkins bubble”?

St. Johns (Annapolis) – The Iliad, by Homer
This is a school that likes to start at the beginning — they teach math by reading Archimedes. So this pick is pretty obvious. Come on, St. Johns, shake things up!

Goucher – The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore
A surprise bestseller set in Baltimore:  “The Other Wes Moore is the story of two kids with the same name, both liv­ing in Baltimore. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, dec­o­rated com­bat vet­eran, White House Fel­low, and busi­ness leader. The other is serv­ing a life sen­tence in prison for felony mur­der.”

UMBC – Outcasts United, Warren St. John
Another tale of hardship with a heartwarming ending – this time, it’s a soccer team of UNHCR refugees in a small town outside Atlanta. Per the book selection committee, “[the story] supports the value of both education and recreational sports.”

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